Tallahassee, FL -- With each passing weekend competition, the Florida State men’s and women’s indoor track & field teams will get a better gauge of their progress. The development and evaluation period for coach Bob Braman’s teams continue this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark. with the Seminoles competing in the Razorback Invitational.
Preliminary rounds in the sprints, as well as a handful of other events, begin Friday in what should be an outstanding, early-season test among perennial national powers.
The 12-team field for both genders includes nine nationally ranked men’s teams, including No. 4 FSU; one of six top-10 teams. FSU’s ninth-ranked women are among eight teams ranked in the top 25.
“This is really great competition,” Braman said. “This is about as high-powered a meet you can hope to compete in January. We’re starting to put more elite guys and girls into action. This is the first time we’ll be at full strength in my opinion and see where we are in terms of ACC and NCAA.”
For the first time this season, the Braman-coached FSU men’s distance unit will take to the track. The Seminoles will send a Distance Medley relay team of AJ del Valle, Darrin Gibson, Pablo Navarrete and John Grellner onto the 200-meter Randal Tyson Track Friday evening.
Saturday will mark the indoor season debut of cross country All-American junior David Forrester, who will be among fast company with standouts from powers Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Arkansas in the fast heat of the 3,000 meter race.
“David Forrester is in really good shape and in a really good 3,000-meter field,” Braman said. “We’ll see where he is. He’s ahead of where [2011 FSU All-American] Ciaran O’Lionaird was this time last year.”
Seth Proctor, coming off an outstanding cross country season as well, will also be in the 3,000-meter race.
Senior All-American shot putter Michael Putman will also make his season debut on Friday, facing off against a field that will include a trio of Texas throwers with 60-foot marks to their credit.
“It’s going to be fun to get [Putman] back in action,” said Braman. “He’s a beast and a leader on this team.”
Among the other field events to be contested Friday are the pole vault, high jump and long jump. Lauren Giffin will compete for the FSU women in the pole vault, while outdoor All-American Andrew LaHaye will be joined by teammates John Kennedy and Drew Marcello. Danielle Williams will compete in the women’s high jump and 2011 NCAA indoor qualifier Amy Harris will tackle a stout long jump field.
Touted freshman Stefan Brits, who arrived on campus from his home in Cape Town, South Africa in January, will get his first taste of U.S. collegiate competition in the long jump.
Qualifying rounds in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dash will be contested Friday evening, which will include another Seminole newcomer, LSU transfer and six-time All-American, Horatio Williams. Junior David Ambler, who has earned All-American honors for the Seminoles’ 4x100 relay team outdoors, will also make his season debut in the 60, while touted freshman Stephen Newbold is scheduled to go in the 200 prelims.
“We’re looking for the next Kemar Hyman breakthrough,” Braman said, referring to the FSU senior who posted an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 60 last week at the Auburn Invitational.
Hyman, fresh off his 6.56 60-meter performance, which ranks second in the world indoors, is also set to see if he can improve on a mark that is just .01 off teammate Maurice Mitchell’s school record.
FSU women’s distance coach Karen Harvey, whose charges went 1-2 in the mile and 1-2-3 in the 3,000 meters last week, should once again be a force on the boards. Amanda Winslow and Hannah Brooks, All-Americans on the track in the mile and 1,500, respectively, last season, will give it a go in a solid mile field. Freshmen Aubree Worden and Linden Hall are also in the field.
Freshmen Colleen Quigley will step up from the mile after her victory last week and compete in the 3,000, along with Kayleigh Tyerman and Jennifer Dunn. Violah Lagat drops down from the mile to test her early-season strength in the 800 meters, where Darrin Gibson will also compete on the men’s side for FSU.
“It’s fun putting some of the big dogs in there to see where we are,” Braman said.
Finals for all running events except the Distance Medley and 5,000 meters will be contested Saturday with the action getting underway at 11 a.m.
You can follow the action live here http://flashresults.com/2012_Meets/indoor/01-27-RazorbackInvite/ throughout the weekend and get periodic updates via Twitter @FSU_Track. Of course, Seminoles.com will have complete coverage of the meet as well.